Last time, I showed you an example of the “steal the first sentence” technique. This time, I want to share an example of using a physical cue as a writing prompt. I have used this tool many times to shine a light on memories that have been lost in the shadows. Sometimes those memories merge with fiction, and stories are born that would never have been told without that initial prompt.
Here is a short, mostly first draft, that I just wrote using apple butter as a prompt. It made me laugh to see where it landed…
Apple butter reminds me of Colonial Day at Brookline Elementary. It reminds me of hand-dipped candles and cutout profile portraits, like Abe Lincoln and George Washington. Apple butter reminds me of butter cookies, and handloom weaving and parchment paper. It reminds me of tables pushed together to make stations around the lunchroom, and teachers dressed up like Little House on the Prairie.
I wonder what happened to my pink, hand-dipped, Colonial Day candles. They used to be treasure. I remember that mom visited the stations with me that day, and I think we had candy apples. I know we had hard candy cherries with green plastic stems. I remember they hung in pairs, like balls.